First, let's admit that Vampire Weekend, the band, draw on any number of inspirations here - namely, Graceland (and the African sounds that was based on), The Strokes, The Killers, Ska, and, of course, Herman's Hermits - as well as a clutch of other smart, sassy campus-based groups of yore. But whereas snot-nosed youth usually aims to be smart and often is smart-assed, Vampire Weekend has caught the Simon and Garfunkel vibe truly - these songs are as genuinely touching as they are clever. But not just clever - wittily constrained in intriguing verbal ways that should appeal to poets - and everyone else. Infamously, most of the songs refer to military battles, or history, obliquely.
The cryptic lyrics (making The Shins seem transparent) coin phrase after phrase that delights and lodges in the brain, as in "the pin-striped men of morning". The great "M79" already has bloggers asking what "sing in praise of Jackson Crowter" means. Who Is John Galt? indeed. Other songs express suspicion of the "Oxford comma"; and the opening track opens with a "Mansard Roof". Infectious pop has rarely been so effortlessly erudite - it's like sipping lemonade with Buckminster Fuller on a blue July day. For now, I love this East Coast band. It'll be hard to find a better CD in 2008. Poetry should seek, more often, to play such sweet, fun, smart, upbeat notes.